Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today revealed that there are now four more pupils to every member of school support staff than there were a decade ago, heaping additional pressure onto teachers and other staff.
The figures, acquired through a parliamentary question, show that the pupil/support staff ratio increased from 27.0 in 2007 to 31.2 in 2016.
Support staff include additional support needs auxiliaries, behaviour support, classroom assistants, foreign language assistants, music instructors and library staff.
Mr Scott commented:
“These staff play a valuable role in supporting pupils and teachers alike. But now we know that there are four more pupils to each member of support staff under the SNP.
“Support staff play a critical role. Their working one-on-one with pupils benefits the entire class. As well as bringing expertise, staff providing music or foreign language lessons relieve the pressure on teachers and give them more time to plan lessons or undertake professional development.
“The hike in the pupil-support staff ratio has heaped additional pressure onto teachers at a time when the SNP have also overseen the loss of 4,000 teachers, rising class sizes and Scotland being six years behind the rest of the UK in implementing the pupil premium. That is a devastating combination.
“Teachers are our schools’ biggest asset but they are increasingly stretched. This week, 87% of teachers told an EIS survey that their workloads have increased in the last year, despite John Swinney insisting his initiatives were improving the situation. On Thursday he unveiled plans to give ministers ever greater control, contrary to the results of his own consultation.
“Teachers are clear that funding, resources and staffing are the biggest challenges facing our schools. That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats would instead give frontline professionals the support they are crying out for with a £500 million transformative investment in Scottish education to make it the best again.”